China on Wednesday announced "standardised" official names for six places in Arunachal Pradesh in what seems to be a retaliation of sorts against the 14th Dalai lama's visit to the state earlier this month. The move points to the hardening of China's stance on the northeastern state, especially Tawang.
Beijing has described the northeastern Indian state as a bone of contention and claimed Arunachal Pradesh is a part of south Tibet. China accused the state of maintaining close Buddhist links with the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in the Mainland. The official maps of China shows Arunachal Pradesh as part of south Tibet.
"Standardisation of Chinese names for six places in Arunachal Pradesh is a legitimate action. The Dalai Lama's activities are against Indian government's commitment to China," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
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The places were renamed in standard Chinese to "reaffirm the country's territorial sovereignty to the disputed region." The official standardised names of the six places are Wo'gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoidêngarbo Ri, Mainquka, Bümo La and Namkapub Ri, Chinese state media reported.
"China has standardised the names of 6 places in south Tibet, a region that is part of China's territory but in which some areas are currently controlled by India," the report said. The changes were implemented on April 13, a day after Dalai Lama left Arunachal Pradesh at the end of his nine-day visit. Chinese media reported the matter on Tuesday.
"China's ministry of civil affairs announced on April 13 on its website that it had standardised in Chinese characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabet the names of six places in South Tibet, which India calls "Arunachal Pradesh" according to the regulations of the State Council on place names," the Global Times said in a report.
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"China did not previously have official names for some South Tibet areas, but now China has a better understanding and recognition of the geography in South Tibet, including the names of areas in the region," Xiong Kunxin from Beijing's Minzu University of China told the newspaper. Kunxin added that China demonstrated its territorial sovereignty to India by renaming these places and that the "legalisation of the regions' names is a part of the rule of law."
"South Tibet region is located alongside China's southwestern border and India's northeastern border where Sino-India border disputes are centered," the news report said adding that the Chinese government has never recognised "India's occupation of the region, nor the legitimacy of the province" even after the Indian government in 1987 "abruptly announced that it was officially designating the region as 'Arunachal Pradesh'."
"I said the Dalai Lama is visiting the disputed eastern section of the China-India boundary. It is not Indian territory," Lu Kang, foreign ministry spokesperson, had said in response to the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh last week.